Margareta Magnusson is, in her own words, aged between 80 and 100. Born in Sweden, she has lived all over the world. Margareta graduated from Beckman’s College of Design and her art has been exhibited in galleries from Hong Kong to Singapore. She has five children and lives in Stockholm. The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning is her first book, available now from CBS sister company Simon & Schuster.
What better way to welcome warmer, brighter days than with a little spring cleaning? Discover helpful tips for clearing out clutter and freshening up your home in this original essay by Margareta Magnusson.
Spring is in the air! That is lovely– especially for those of us who live in countries with four seasons, where it feels like it has been years since we last had spring.
We can hear birds chirping. They are not singing yet but they will.
We can see early spring flowers like winter aconite and snowdrops popping up and the buds on trees are swelling. My favorite is called vintergäck, a word that means “to irritate the winter.” And once these little flowers start blooming, winter knows it is time to go.
Suddenly the sun seems to shine sharper than before and I realize that my windows are not as clean as I would like them to be. That makes me certain: it is time for spring cleaning! Wow!
Maybe you have read about death cleaning? It is a simple process where you start getting rid of the things your family and friends will have to get rid of if you happen to die. It is about cleaning up before you go, instead of someone else having to clean up after you.
Maybe you have already started shedding some of your possessions? In that case half of your work — perhaps even more — is already done because you will have fewer things to dust and spring clean.
Whatever your situation, I think there is something positive just in saying the words “spring-cleaning.” In Sweden we call it vårstädning and the word is full of life, light and expectations. You always remember the wonderful feeling when it is done. In the dark winter months you can’t really see the dust and grime, but with the light of spring it all becomes visible. You have to rush to clean up! You open your windows without freezing to death and let the world in, after months of shutting it out.
So let´s get started!
1) I would start with the windows. With clean windowpanes it is easier to see the most forgotten or hidden or dark areas of your living space, so that you can more easily see what needs to be cleaned.
2) Then I would go through clothes, and fabrics like curtains and smaller rugs. Air out, wash or send some items to be dry cleaned. If you can dry your laundry out of doors it will smell so fresh. And while you are at it, you may decide to get rid of some things, but at least they will now be clean if you decide instead to give them away. That will make the next spring cleaning so much easier!
3) Dust and wipe all surfaces and shelves.
4) Vacuum-clean all soft furniture and pillows.
5) Vacuum-clean all floors and wash/mop them.
If you have a huge living space you will need more than one day to get it all done, but for me today with my two-room apartment it only takes a few hours. When I am finished, I will sit down and rest with a nice cup of tea and admire my work.
Last I will pick or buy some nice flowers and shout: